Skip to Main Content

Fall Foliage and Festival Report – Sept. 14-15, 2019

Fall Foliage and Festival Report

Welcome to the Fall Foliage and Festival Report for Sept. 14 and 15, brought to you by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

Soon the landscape will explode with vibrant colors of orange, red and yellow. Kids will be jumping into newly raked piles of leaves and we’ll all “fall” back to Eastern Standard Time and grab that extra bit of sleep. Although Autumn 2019 will not officially arrive until the early morning of Sept. 23, the full moon that falls nearest to the Fall Equinox, the Harvest Moon, is scheduled for its annual appearance on Saturday evening. Sometimes called the Full Corn Moon, it is so bright farmers could work by the light of it.

The most obvious indicator of autumn’s arrival, the changing of the foliage, is still a few weeks away for most of the state; however, in western Maryland, pockets in the higher elevations are starting to show splotches of brilliant color. Garrett County Forester Melissa Nash notes the changing colors on a tree in New Germany State Park and reports, “This sugar maple … is telling us fall is just around the corner! If these warm days and cool nights keep up along with intermittent rain we should get some good color this year.”  

Photo of sugar maple in New Germany State Park

Sugar maple in New Germany State Park, courtesy of Melissa Nash

“In the distance change is not obvious yet, but driving along a forested country road in Allegany County you will notice that a vine called Virginia creeper has changed to red, as well as black gum trees,” writes Flintstone-based Project Forester Dan Hedderick. “Silver maple has started to lose its leaves as well as walnut which has changed to yellow. Sycamore has no real color but has started to drop leaves and an understory tree, flowering dogwood, has changed to multiple colors with red dominant.”

Traditionally, western Maryland is the region where leaf color changes first, with Garrett and Allegany counties’ foliage taking the lead and peaking toward the middle of October.

The shorter, cooler days that accompany these spectacular seasonal changes offer the perfect opportunity for everyone to go outside and experience some of our state’s exciting outdoor activities and festivals.

Sign up to receive weekly reports showcasing the Old Line State’s vibrant fall foliage and the best autumn festivals.

Photo of Antietam National Battlefield

Antietam National Battlefield

You know it’s the end of summer when local county fairs fill up with farm animals, 4-H kids, arts and crafts, fall harvest exhibits, midways, and cotton candy. This weekend, choose from the Worcester County Fair in Snow Hill, the Charles County Fair in La Plata, the Anne Arundel County Fair in Crownsville, or the Great Frederick Fair, which runs for nine days.

Occurring closest to the autumn equinox, September’s “Harvest Moon” signifies the end of the growing season. Join naturalists for a Full Harvest Moon Hike at North Point State Park in Baltimore County at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday. Or, bring your kayak to Tuckahoe State Park Lake on Saturday evening from 7 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. for the Tuckahoe Full Moon Paddle. Call 410-820-1668 to RSVP. Life jackets and flashlights are required. Rentals are available.

If you’re anywhere near Frederick County this week, be sure to attend the 157th Antietam Battle Anniversary Weekend in Sharpsburg for tours, living history demonstrations and hikes.

Or, travel west to Washington County for the Frederick County Militia annual Provincial Muster. Take part in militia drills and learn about the militia and life during the French and Indian War at Fort Frederick State Park. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. 

Photo of Harriet Tubman mural

Harriet Tubman mural

On the Eastern Shore, the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park is hosting an Emancipation Celebration on Saturday from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., a day of events focusing on Tubman’s strength and courage and the importance of freedom.

Learn what you can do to save our birds on Saturday from 10 a.m. – noon at the Howard County Conservancy in Woodstock. See some installed solutions at Save the Birds: Bird-friendly Skies & Windows. Celebrate National Coloring Day on Saturday from 11 a.m. – noon at Seneca Creek State Park in Gaithersburg by creating beautiful works of art based on the radiant Colors of Nature

Acclaimed for being one of the best parties in Annapolis, the Boatyard Beach Bash on Saturday from 5:30 p.m. – 10 p.m. is an important fundraiser for the Annapolis Maritime Museum’s education programs. Featured are talented musicians from the Coral Reefers, providing rare access to Jimmy Buffett’s band in an intimate setting with the incomparable backdrop of the Chesapeake Bay. On Sunday at 8 a.m., meet at nearby Sandy Point State Park for Crabbing 101, a beginner’s course in crabbing! The park supplies bait, gear, and personal flotation devices, or bring your own. Shine only. Registration is required.

Photo of people standing in circle on Indigenous Heritage Day

Indigenous Heritage Day

Southern Maryland is in full festival mode this weekend. Explore and celebrate Indian life, ways and culture during Indigenous Heritage Day at Historic St. Mary’s City on Sat. from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Learn new skills, try crafts, and watch demonstrations to gain a new appreciation for the people that called this land home before Maryland was founded.

Nearby on the Square in Historic Leonardtown, enjoy “A Taste of St. Mary’s,” Saturday from 1 – 5:30 p.m. This popular annual event features the chance to sample specialties from local restaurants and caterers, as well as free entertainment, kids’ activities, and a classic car show. 

Known for their boat-docking contest, the Calvert County Watermen’s Festival begins at noon on Sunday at Watermen’s Wharf in Solomons. Come early as seating is limited. Enjoy live entertainment, refreshments for sale and much more.

Photo of tractor with steam engine

Maryland Steam Engine Show

Looking for something different, family-friendly and free? Travel to Upperco in northern Baltimore County for the Maryland Steam Historical Society Show, organized by collectors of antique farm equipment. Enjoy the display of steam engines, tractors and gas engines, a flea market, antique cars, food, tractor pulls and equipment demonstrations all weekend.

Maryland is often referred to as “America in Miniature” because so many unique landscapes are found within its borders. The Maryland Natural Areas initiative seeks to identify the best remaining natural areas. While you’re out enjoying the fall season, take some time to visit a natural area nearby. Learn more about these often hidden gems on our website.

If you’re planning a Maryland getaway this weekend, keep in mind that cabins are still available for the fall season in many state parks. You can reserve one for a fantastic September weekend today by calling the Maryland Park Service’s reservation line at 1-888-432-CAMP (2267) or visiting the park reservation website

For more information or to see a full listing of Maryland Department of Natural Resources events and programs, please check out our online calendar.

Enjoy your late summer weekend, Maryland!


“In autumn, don’t go to the jewelers to see gold; go to the parks!”

– Mehmet Murat ildan